He says he would like to find a man who is gay but not flamboyant and who is Jewish without being, as the joke goes, merely Jew-ish. As Mr.

For LGBT Orthodox Jews, Growth of Social Media Creates a Safe Space Online

Rosner puts it in JDate profile, "I love surprising someone I'm with and being romantic from time to time, but I'm not into constant mushy gross stuff like making out while waiting to cross the street at a light. One day, Mr. Athletic and lighthearted, Mr. Steinberg composes classical music in his free time, and even at 23, he talks about his desire for children, making him something of a Jewish mother's gay dream come true.

Steinberg is not observant, but he seeks a boyfriend from his own culture, and for him, JDate is digital manna.

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View all New York Times newsletters. Gail Laguna, a spokeswoman for the company, said the new feature was part of a general upgrade that included instant messaging and video chat. Although JDate has no official count, a recent search of the site pulled up profiles of gay men and 57 lesbians in the five boroughs. Many of the city's Jewish singles said they welcomed the expansion of the site. A gay outreach program was among the first created at the center when it was founded on the Upper West Side 15 years ago.

Rosner, the graphic designer, has so far had two dates through the service. With the first date, there was no chemistry, he said, and the second one went worse. Rosner admitted with a groan.

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Growing up in an ultra-Orthodox family in Brooklyn in the s, Moshe struggled with his homosexuality. There was no discussion of gay issues at the yeshiva, either, he remembers: Everyone was implicitly taught that the only way to channel their sexuality was to get married—to women, of course. That was in , before the popular advent of the Internet. The online universe changed all that. A few years ago, he began reading blogs about other Orthodox gay men who were coming out. In June , as a married father of four, he did.

A Dating Service Gives a Nod to Jewish Gays - The New York Times

I want them to know that they are not alone. I want to have the opportunity to hear from them and share my experience with them. Since the Internet boom and the more recent growing popularity of social media—from blogs to Facebook groups, dating sites to Twitter feeds, as well as official organizational websites—there has been a veritable explosion of sites and support groups for LGBT Orthodox Jews, a population that until now, hid in the shadows.

The Orthodox community has strict rules about homosexual behavior: Male homosexuality, colloquially known as mishkav zachor literally, someone who lies with men , is explicitly forbidden in the Torah from Leviticus From this narrow proscription of a sexual act, any behaviors or acts that could possibly be considered evidence of a homosexual lifestyle have also been widely condemned in Orthodox circles.

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Writing in the s, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein , the most important halachic decider of the century, wrote: Faced with official condemnation and afraid to come out for fear of losing their religious community, many LGBT Orthodox Jews lived lives of quiet desperation until recently. However with the advent of the Internet and social media, according to activists and experts, more and more LGBT Orthodox Jews are finally able to find each other—online or in person—and bring both sides of their identity together at last.

This is the big mistake that a lot of people make about being Orthodox and LGBT is that there is a huge risk for suicide and self-harm, but not because of the prohibition in the Torah. The Internet kind of saved people.

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  7. For Levovitz, the change happened when he discovered the website GayJews. Levovitz, 19 at the time, recalls it as some sort of dating website where you could specify religious orientation, from Reform to Orthodox. From there, Levovitz—who was a speaker at Y. Currently they maintain a list of over members and encompass groups for Jewish parents of LGBT children and workshops about increasing tolerance inside the Orthodox community.

    Then again, the Internet itself is a source of consternation for many Orthodox Jews: A large anti-Internet rally held in Citifield in , attended by more than 40, Ultra-Orthodox Jews, hammered home the resistance many Orthodox Jews have for such technologies.